By Saed Bannoura
IMEMC & Agencies: Israeli Peace Now Movement revealed Monday that Israel is planning the construction of 272 units in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and that the decision was made as U.S. Secretary of State was leaving the country following separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Peace Now said that Tel Aviv is planning to build 250 units in the Ofra illegal settlement, and 22 units in Karnei Shomron illegal settlement.
The official approval was made on Sunday, while an official document at the webpage of the Israeli Military Administration said the construction could start soon.
Peace Now said that Israel is not seeking a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and that by insisting on settlement construction and expansion, Tel Aviv is just placing obstacles to peace, especially since the two settlements are in the heart of the West Bank.
The Israeli government said that the project was first presented in October of last year.
An Israeli official of the Ministry of Defense said that the announcement that came Sunday is only part of a four-stage plan before constructions can start, and that concluding all paperwork “could require several months.”
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Parliamentary Committee of his Likud Party that he does not intend to dismantle settlements in the West Bank.
Netanyahu also said that Israel would not provide what he called “concessions” in peace talks with the Palestinians, and will never withdraw from the occupied Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, and various parts of the West Bank.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said before leaving the Middle East on Monday following four days of extensive talks with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab officials, that he was unable to convince Israel and the Palestinians to accept his proposed peace plan.
Kerry did not denounce Israel’s illegal settlement construction and expansion activities, but only repeated previous statements saying, “The US considers settlements to be illegitimate”.
The US continues to grant Israeli billions of Dollars in direct and indirect annual financial and military support, and is not observed as a fair mediator in direct peace talks due to its special ties with Tel Aviv.
It is worth mentioning that there are more than 350.000 Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, in addition to more than 200.000 settlers living in and around occupied East Jerusalem.